Our children are our future councillors, business leaders, innovators and so much more but how do inspire them to think about jobs in engineering & technology when the terms alone are so abstract? Thankfully, for this very reason, TeenTech exists to ‘help young people understand the opportunities in the science, technology and engineering industries, no matter what their gender or social background’
I was invited along as a business ambassador to represent London Borough of Hounslow at a recent TeenTech event at Roehampton University (they run these all over the country) and my role for the day was to support the teacher and help inspire their cohort of students. I was assigned to a group of 8 Key Stage 3 children (Year 7 = 11/12 years old) from Twickenham School who, it is fair to say, were not sure why they were there but were curious nonetheless, having found out two days prior that they had been selected to attend.
The day began with a vote asking the students whether they had any interest in working in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) arena and the responses were low. Following a day of engaging, exciting and interesting sessions that brought these to life the responses at the end of the day were much higher. Each cohort of students had a slightly different schedule, so they got to see different presentations and the group I was with got to experience:
- Adding voiceovers/dubbing and foley sounds in the university film sound studio
- Mind-bending physics showing how poor the human mind is at judging weight and volume, courtesy of the National Physics Laboratory
- A talk from Queen Mary’s University on hacking (with a funky, hacked Teddy Bear that controls room access (with a card reader in one foot and speaker in another) and alerts you to intruders i.e. that pesky younger brother or sister, to stop them going through your room, through flashing eyes and a digital display on which to project your warning message!
- A talk and demonstration on space flight and fuel from Dallas Campbell and a demonstration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning from Amazon’s Space Dept. which focuses on satellite launches and maintenance, particularly using them to monitor and react to emergency situations e.g.
- Using satellite images to learn about environmental matters so when a volcano began to erupt satellite images were captured and the system was able to present a picture of where the issue was but also to recommend where best to evacuate people from as it had learnt how to track which way the volcanic smoke was heading – amazing.
The students had also been set a group task to be completed before the event which was to create a building of the future and to really think outside of the constraints of everyday thought; what technology would help? What innovative ideas could inspire new products for the future (I am not sure how practical the chicken-cloner idea is!); who would it help and how – then they had to make a model of it.
The creativity, thoughtfulness and intelligence of these students was so inspiring as they integrated renewable energy and accessibility without a second thought but were striving to find other ways to provide the best for others. To see these younger children getting so involved and thinking things through so thoughtfully and carefully shows that their future is in the right hands.
Finally, some food for thought for us as a council and thinking of these students as future residents, business owners and even councillors: one of the questions they were asked was ‘Where does your town or city need to make the most improvements?’ and the response was significant with over a quarter of the students stating Crime Prevention as most important to them as you can see here: